Amgen on the prowl?

The world’s largest biotechnology company is again in feeding mode. According to CEO Kevin Sharer, Amgen is reportedly eyeing alternatives toward acquisitions to add to its international footprint. Best guesses have Dendreon, UCB, Ipsen & Actelion on their target list.

Amgen’s cash position includes $12.3 billion being held in international accounts, which would be subject to a 35% tax rate on profits if repatriated to the United States. This provides a unique incentive to pursue overseas transactions with tax-free profits.

Belgian pharmaceutical group UCB has been quietly growing its presence in the U.S. out of Atlanta, GA. French drugmaker Ipsen (oncology, hematology, endocrinology) solidified its U.S. foothold through the acquisition of Tercica in the Bay area. Expansion plans are aggressive for 2011. Actelion is Europe’s largest biotech company focused on orphan drugs for cardiovascular diseas & has expanded its U.S. presence nearly next door to Ipsen in northern California.

What U.S. companies could draw Amgen’s interest? Genzyme is not an option, as Amgen is unlikely to bid against Sanofi Aventis. However, two midsize targets could include Human Genome Sciences in MD and Dendreon in Seattle.

While no deal is not eminent, most expect its only a matter of time due to Amgen’s financial position and the need to foster continued growth. Certainly, acquisitions are a part of the company’s history with the largest being Immunex back in 2001.

So, who do you think Amgen will pursue?


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